Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said in 2005 that switching from petroleum to a "new energy source" would halt rising cancer rates, precipitate the defeat of "Osama and his buddies," and create "astronomical" job growth.
The retired neurosurgeon made the comments in September 2005 at a Town Hall Meeting hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus.
Carson said at the event that "the young black male in America is an endangered species," as evidenced by high rates of homicide in major cities and mass incarceration.
Spending "a quarter" of the amount on educating young black men that the country spent on imprisoning them, Carson said, would decrease the number of people "you have to be afraid of," cut welfare rolls, and create an opportunity for someone to "discover the cure for AIDs, cancer, or discover a new energy source."
"And some people say, 'Well, I'm not a young black male or 'I don't know any young black males. It's not my problem,'" Carson said. "But here's what they don't recognize: for every one of those young black people that we can keep from going down that path of self-destruction, that's one less person that you have to be afraid of or protect your family from, one less person you have to pay for in the penal or welfare system, one more taxpaying productive member of society who may discover the cure for AIDs, cancer, or discover a new energy source."
Carson, who was still a practicing neurosurgeon at the time, then raised the problem of rising cancer rates, which, he claimed, were caused by "our immune systems" being "so busy fighting pollution coming into the body all the time," namely pollution from "petroleum products."
"Our immune systems fight developing cancers," Carson said. "However, if our immune systems are so busy fighting pollution coming into the body all the time, they're not going to be able to fight the cancer rates. We need to start concentrating on this environment. We're polluting it with petroleum products that have very long half-lives and all kinds of things and if we don't begin to pay attention to it, we're going to be fighting a losing battle."
"And how am I going to tie all of this up?" Carson asked, before asserting that switching to a new energy source would be a more effective alternative to the Bush administration's War on Terror.
"I personally believe that we could win that war without firing a single bullet if we used this incredible brain that God gave us and the way we would do that," Carson said. "What if the President came out tomorrow and said, 'Within ten years, we are going to become petroleum-independent. We are going to change our energy source.' Think about what the implications of that would be."
"First of all, all the moderate Arab states would be horrified because now, you know, what's going to happen to them? So they would hand Osama and all those guys over on a silver platter. They would not want to deal with them because they would put first things first," Carson said.
He also said shifting energy sources would "begin to clean up the environment so we could do something about the health that's going on here" and would lead to a soaring job market.
"The job market would go through the roof as we changed over from the petroleum industry to, let's say, hydrogen," Carson said. "The production of jobs would be astronomical and they would not be exportable jobs. And the stock market would go through the roof."
"And Osama and all his buddies would have no money to spend and no terrorism to export," Carson predicted. "And, you know, really, maybe that's the reason that God gave us brains, so we could come up with solutions like that. Because we could shoot missiles and bombs at them all day and there will not come a time when they give up and say, 'Okay, we're gonna be good guys.'"
Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.
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